Mikhail Menezes is a seasoned Youth Stop AIDS campaigner and has witnessed first hand the power of lobbying in the fight against AIDS. In this post he reflects on the success of our campaigning in the past, just as we look to the future with a new name and a new goal: Youth Stop AIDS – campaigning for a world without AIDS by 2030.
In the grand scheme of things, a few people shuttling from one parliamentary office to another seems too insignificant to influence the political and regulatory landscape of the monumental challenge of our time – tackling the global AIDS epidemic. Look a little closer though and it becomes evident that this is no ordinary group of people advocating for change. Their effort and tenacity has been instrumental in achieving the UN goal of getting 15 million people on AIDS treatment by the year 2015, and they did this with the time-honoured method of changing minds – talking truth to people in power.
Activism in the fight against AIDS is unique in that it spans local and global legislation, it not only requires efforts to get people the treatment they need at current prices but also advocate for policy changes to ensure that these treatment routes are always getting cheaper and more accessible. By constantly and personally advocating with policymakers and corporations, we have raised the level of debate around AIDS forcing policymakers to reckon with the repercussions of their trade policies and understand the impact that cutting social spending has on the health of our population. Most of all, it has made politicians and companies worldwide aware of the fact that there is a constituency out there that cares deeply about these issues.
By becoming vocal stakeholders of our system of healthcare, the global activist community has made sure that any time someone tries to roll back the progress we’ve made, there is a brick wall of opposition ready to make the decision politically and economically toxic.